Counter Cafe quietly opened its third location in Austin at the beginning of the year near Guadalupe Street, replacing Conan’s Pizza Central in West Campus.
Located on West 29th Street near Cabo Bob’s Burritos and Buffalo Exchange, the cafe serves breakfast, lunch and brunch from 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Cafe owner Debbie Davis said she started the business in 2007 at a small 26-seat diner on 6th Street and Lamar Boulevard.
Davis said she expanded her business to other locations because the original restaurant building is for sale and she wants to ensure her business continues. She said the original location will be maintained until it is sold by the building’s property manager. So far, Davis said she has enjoyed the new West Campus location.
“We’re getting a really good mixture (of people), from the students to people in their late 70s and 80s that have lived in the neighborhood for decades, and old professors,” Davis said. “This whole neighborhood around here really represents what Austin has always been.”
The diner has secluded spots where people can do work and drink coffee and a more lively area of booths and stools where restaurant patrons can see the kitchen, Davis said. Davis, who worked at Whole Foods 40 years ago, said she based the menu on comfort food made with quality ingredients inspired by the grocery store. Her personal favorites include the southern toast, collard greens and grits.
“I believe you’re only as good as your ingredients, and that’s what we strive for,” Davis said. “But keep it simple, and keep it comfort food. It’s not rocket science. It’s a meal.”
Davis said she opened the business quietly to allow for a smooth transition, and she is advertising the Counter Cafe through word of mouth, similar to how she spread the word for the original Lamar location. Davis said the community has embraced the cafe with open arms.
“I think on Sunday we had 300 guests,” Davis said. “It’s like throwing a party every day.”
Hydrogeology junior Addison Savage said she has heard of the cafe, although she has not gone yet. She said she looks to eat local when she goes out and pays attention to the food quality and atmosphere.
“To me, it’s part of the Austin experience of having so many things to try, and while I’m here, I might as well experience as many as I can,” Savage said.
Biomedical engineering freshman Zahra Karim said although she finds herself mostly eating fast food due to convenience, her favorite places when she has time to go out are breakfast and brunch options because of the atmosphere.
“(Going out for brunch is) very vintage but homey, and the people there are very (much) townspeople, so everybody’s nice,” Karim said.
Davis said in addition to providing good food, the atmosphere is an important factor. She said the design of the Counter Cafe is simple but elegant.
“I want people to come in here and feel comfortable and inspired,” Davis said.